Multitasking: Can We manage without it?

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A life without multitasking seems impossible in today’s fast moving, rapidly changing and highly competitive world. Forget about life, think about one day without multitasking and you will understand what I am talking about. The kind of world we live in requires quick decision making. We have to stay on our toes and act rapidly and swiftly if we want to fulfil those dreaded deadlines in time. So because of this we have very limited free time available with us now. Time becomes our number one priority and we try to finish things up as soon as possible which is possible only by taking up multiple tasks at the same time. It is not even limited to our professional life, but to every aspect of our personal life as well. To give you an example, think of the time when you are having your meal. Is eating the only thing you are doing, is food the only thought on your mind at that point of time? The answer is no. In fact, the truth is that most of the times you wouldn’t be thinking and focusing at all on the food that you are eating.

You normally would be utilizing this time to do various other activities like watching the news (or anything else on television, for that matter), satisfying your social media quotient for the day by communicating with someone on the phone via a call or texts or Facebook/Twitter, bonding with your family or whosoever you are having your meals with (getting to know how their day has been so far and what are the plans for the rest of the day etc.), reading newspapers, surfing the internet, and many more such activities. Rarely will you find someone who is actually focused on consuming his / her food and is thinking about nothing else. This is the extent of multitasking that we are used to in our everyday lives.

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Having set the background as well as the context of my article, let me get back to the point I wanted to emphasize on. The question of the hour is whether multitasking is actually helping us or is it proving to be harmful for us in some way? If it is harmful then can we really do without it in today’s world? To answer both the questions, let us understand that despite helping you getting multiple things done at the same time, why multitasking is not necessarily a good thing. Here is where the concept of ‘quality vs quantity’ will come into picture. While a lot of people today are focused on just getting things done, only a minority are actually focused on getting quality work done.

It is not the quantity that matters but the quality of work that reflects our caliber and differentiates us from the other mediocre bunch. Doing multiple things at the same time affects the individual productivity of each and every task. Our brain is only capable of paying attention to a limited number of things at one point of time; it can only process a certain number of things at one time. So forcing it to do multiple things at the same time will inevitably lead to deterioration in quality and we’ll, too, end up missing out on some important aspect or the other. So no matter how efficient you are, no matter how hard you work, you will end up affecting the quality of everything that you do by doing multiple works in the time assigned for one particular task.

Whatever it is that we are supposed to do in life, we should do it with a 100 % commitment to it. It is only because of the lack of such commitment that we show towards all the individual tasks we perform that we are never able to do something wholeheartedly. This reflects in our results, and it is then we wonder that what could have possibly gone wrong. We should not think of any task as an insignificant one which has no value. Even something as normal as eating your food, playing a game of cricket, or talking to someone on the phone, requires you to pay full attention to it.

By not paying full attention to something you are not only restricting your potential, but you are also reflecting a lack of enthusiasm to the recipient. Think of how irritating it is when you are talking to someone who is only paying partial attention to you, and is constantly looking at his / her mobile screen because a huge part of his attention is directed towards someone else who he is also communicating with at the same time through his phone. Although you may not say something to him/ her at that moment, but doesn’t he / she come off as being rude and as being not interested towards you? This is just one little example which we see in our everyday life. There are numerous such examples through which, if you start thinking about, you will be able to understand the point that I am trying to make here.

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So to conclude I would just say that don’t restrict your potential, don’t compromise on your goals, and don’t stand in your own path to success just because you want to get things done in a faster manner. Commit yourself completely to whatever you do. No matter how trivial the task seems to be, follow a step by step approach and move on to the next task only when you are completely through with the earlier one. Never do more than one thing at a time, not unless it becomes completely necessary or it is one of the requirements of your job profile. Remember that every hugely successful always chose quality over quantity. Start inculcating that winning habit in you. Today!